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3 Ring Circus Burn-Up!

Antsonline's picture

By Antsonline - Posted on 27 July 2014

Re: This ride meeting: 
3 Ring Circus 2014
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Veteran Male 30-39
Position (Category): 

Some races can be just 'all out' from the gun. Others need a little bit of planning and tactics. This race (assuming you have your best climbing legs) is the latter.

In the last week leading into the race, the quality of the field improved significantly - there were some real hitters entered! Shaun Lewis, Ed McDonald, Seb Jayne, Brad Morton, James Downing, Andy Hall, Guy Frail, Jack Lavis - for a race in the middle of winter, it was a big turnout, and I got a sense of how the race would unfold - because there are enough strong legs there to cover most moves, attacks or gaps. I was sure it would be down to a bit of attrition on the climbs, but ultimately very tactical.

Staying in Bundanoon, I took the decision to ride the 20km to Wingello as a warm-up. 45mins was perfect on such cool morning, and I arrived at about 9am with a good sweat on. A quick change of clothes, water bottle and kiss from the missus, and I was on the startline.
Extensive sledging on the startline was perfect to lighten the atmosphere and in now time at all, amid a few laughs, we were off.

A couple of early attacks were let go and pulled back, and the blue lap was pretty much over. I had planned to come through in about 10th place or so - just in the wheels - as thats how it went (I think - I havent seen the exact position). I was calm and happy - the sun was out, and the atmosphere in the bunch was good. Some more sledging in the bunch during the blue lap: "Is this how fast you ride in Sydney? Its pretty slow" (from a Canberran) vs. "Well, you must feel at home, sitting on wheels as usual - typical negative race tactics", finally finished off with "ahh - you know when Canberrans are in the bunch - its always so political" Boom-tish.

Red lap, and the first climb, I found myself at the front up the climb and just pushed on. Ed rode up to me and said "keep it on, there are people hurting already". So we pushed on a bit and hit the next, grassy, climb.
Nothing much happened here, kinda solid, some breathing behind me, and we pushed over the top nice and fast - with it strung out into the first Singletrack - as planned actually.
The red loop continued like this - strung out up the climbs, with some ST thrown in between. At some stage in here, James Downing had a 'moment' and suffered an asthma attack - which is an awful thing to happen. He recovered, in time, but couldnt be part of the race. Its a shame as he would have loved it.

There were about 8 of us together as we hit the final bit of singletrack - and at this point, Shaun and Jack just jumped clear. Maybe 5 or 10 seconds gap. Nothing much. I didnt think anything of it. As we climbed back up to the transition area, I saw Shaun drop off Jacks wheel and he rejoined us, and we let Jack stay out there on his own. No problem, we thought, we've got the whole Yellow loop to bring him back, and he's only got 10seconds on us.......
The hill had thinned the group further, and we were 2 small groups going through the transition at the start of the Yellow - and soon enough it all came together.
A big bunch. We descended fast together and hit the first climb. It was about this point that I realised we had made a bit of a mistake with Jack. He was GONE. Oh well, we'll get him, it will just take a bit longer.....
I hit these hills pretty hard - as planned. I wanted to get to the infamous Half-way hill with only a small group. As we splashed through the creek, there were three of us. Myself, Shaun and Ed. I looked back and Seb and Guy and Brad were right there - maybe 10secs back.
We hit the climb hard. By the left hand turn (about 70% up the hill) Seb had closed the gap to maybe 3 seconds. These moments are hard. We were all hurting so bad, but knew that if we just stuck it in a tiny weenie bit more, we'd kill Seb off. Harsh.
And so it was. Jack had about 30secs, and myself, Shaun and Ed started the chase in earnest.
We rolled turns, and worked really hard. With about 4km to go, it was back to 10 seconds.
That sort of distance makes things hard. We knew that if we kept working, we would probably just get him. But then what? We never found out. With 2km to go, we (as a chase group) realised we had left it too late. Jack was home and hosed. What a great ride by him.
So - the race for the final two podium spots between 3 guys.
Shaun is a sprinter. He wins them all the time, pretty much every time. I knew this, but I had also won a sprint at the 3 Ring two years ago - against Mark Tupalski. I committed to doing exactly the same thing. Same place, same attack. About 100m before my 'launch' I noticed Shaun get his gears right, adjust his position, and get himself ready. Poor old Ed was just driving along as best he good - pretty much oblivious to what was happening on his wheel.
I thought "Just hit it as hard as you can" - and I did. I jumped. Went full stink. Everything. Shaun must have been planning on a similar move because he was so fast to respond. We were neck and neck going into the final right-hander - with 10m to go!

Before the race, I had looked at the finish, and the corner. The inside line (theoretically faster) had a few roots in it. The outside line (more likely to drift into the barrier) was smooth. I had planned on the outside line. I hadnt planned on hitting it at 45kph. Both Shaun and I had a full drift / skid on around the corner. Both of us had our inside foot unclipped. It was crazy. I didnt ever clip back in - I just put my foot on top of my pedal and pushed. Shaun did the same - but the roots slowed him just enough to allow me to get a nose ahead - and we crossed the line.
Beating Shaun in a sprint doesnt happen often. I should buy a Lotto ticket I reckon!
As I collapsed over the line, Bryony (missus) and Dicko (puncture had ended his day early) both said "Amazing sprint! You were so close to that barrier though! We thought you were off for certain".
Nah - an inch is as good as a mile!

So - 2nd place overall. Such a fun race, real tactical racing - thinning the groups out, selecting the points to attack. A beautiful day out - sunshine, wonderful trails, and lots of friends. Wonderful stuff.

In case you are into that sort of thing, here is my Strava file from the race:

unclebullbar's picture

Good time and result, I was about an hour behind.

On your warm up were you wearing a fluro jersey, beanie and big headphones?

Dicko's picture

Nice work Ant

I knew you had a win / podium coming.

Great way to kick off the second half of the year.

Antsonline's picture

That was me. Did you nearly run me over or something? Was I doing something stupid (other than wearing a beanie and not a helmet)?

Dicko - thanks bud. A bit of hard work, a bit of luck, and most of all - less stress about my riding. Still - some bigger races to come yet....

unclebullbar's picture

After knocking over a Wombat last night, I came over a crest in the 100 zone and almost got you. Please wear a lid. I don't want to get on the podium by default.

andyfev's picture

Nice write up and congratulations on 2nd place all on the back of a 21km warmup Eye-wink

Brian's picture

Awesome result

GAZZA's picture

Winners are grinners!!!!

jp's picture

I hope there is some video of that finish somewhere?

Well done mate, an awesome, well-deserved result.

Lach's picture

Nice write up and congrats on the podium result. I suppose the challenge now is to hold that form through to the spring XCM season?

Antsonline's picture

Thanks @lach - the challenge for me is always work. My year is busiest in March / April and then Sept / Oct - so in between I can usually get fit.
This year I am also squeezing in my wedding, so timing is tight!

As a side issue - I dont think 'holding' form will cut it come the big races. I need to be a bit fitter and stronger, but that should be ok - its getting warmer, brighter, and less miserable in the mornings now!

stephen's picture

Awesome write up as always and great to see smiles on the podium, congratulations. I've learned a lot from your blogs over the years, any chance you could share your nutrition plan / execution over that 50k? I suspect not the dried figs you mentioned a few years back, how anyone can get those down with any intensity is beyond me Smiling

Antsonline's picture

Glad that you have picked something up over the years! Thats such a nice to read.
Yes - nutrition. Happy to share.
Race was at 10am, so woke up at 6.45am, went for a little stroll in the cold, and was back in the hotel room for breaky at 7.15am. 2 English muffins with jam, and a smoothie.

Riding from Bundanoon I wrapped up really warm and had a sweat on, so I drank a full 500ml bottle by the time I got there. I also nibbled a bit on a Clif bar.

15mins before the gun, and I necked a gel.
20-30mins into the race I skulled another gel. throughout the blue/red I drank another 500ml.
I had a few 'bloks' in my pocket, and popped a few in towards the end of the red lap.
Start of yellow loop, I picked up a 2nd bottle, and another gel. Took it straight away. Then popped a final gel at the top of the big climb.
4 gels, 2 little bloks, 1.5 500ml bottles.

Re the figs - I would still use them on a longer race. My stomach just cant do many more gels than 4 or 5, so the figs are good. I've been trialling those fruit rolls that you can get for kids lunchboxes too - they seem easy to digest.

Hope that helps, its not really anything impressive.

More broadly on nutrition, I have been really careful recently with my nutrition post training and have found that to make a huge difference. Proper protein and carbs - immediately after I finish a session has helped me recover. It also take a bit of the stress away from cooking dinner when you are smashed or too tired to care for an hour or so.
I've been helped on this little discovery by a company called Essential Sports Nutrition - Aussie, organic goodness.

doc's picture

Congrats on a great ride Ants !

I wish I could have witnessed the helter skelter to the finish line - that may have made a great day out even more memorable

mike95's picture

great write up Ant's.
Congrats on the result.

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